Cliff Notes on the Breadth of Jim Collins’ Work

Posted by Kristin Arnold on November 29, 2022

jim collins' work

I recently attended a leadership conference where Jim Collins shared his Twelve Questions for Building a Great Company – essentially a culmination of all of his work. And what do you think was one of the most important contributions?

He says, “the big thing is your underlying flywheel architecture, properly conceived.” Ahhh…and that’s the tricky part.  Anyone can put together a flywheel – I’ve read several blogs about this and they don’t have the clarity and crispness with which Collins explains not only the flywheel, but all the other important concepts of his work.

Important Concepts of Jim Collins’ Work:

  • Disciplined people
  • Level 5 leadership
  • First who, then what – get the right people on the bus
  • Disciplined thought
  • Genius of the and
  • Confront the brutal facts – The Stockdale Paradox
  • The hedgehog concept
  • Disciplined action
  • The flywheel
  • 20-mile march
  • Fire bullets, then cannonballs
  • Building to last
  • Productive paranoia
  • Clock building, not time telling
  • Preserve the core/stimulate progress
  • 10X multiplier
  • Return on luck
  • Outputs of greatness
  • Superior results
  • Distinctive impact
  • Lasting endurance

I particularly love the last paragraph of the book:

“Finally, I caution against ever believing that your organization has achieved ultimate greatness.  Good to great is never done.  No matter how far we have gone or how much we have achieved, we are merely good relative to what we can do next.  Greatness is an inherently dynamic process, not an end point.”


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KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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